Travel Report: Roskilde, Denmark.
July 2002. One long ago summer I found myself touring Denmark for a couple of weeks. Time was generally tight, thus when I rolled into Roskilde I found myself with just under twenty four hours before my train to Odense. My first stop was the city’s giant cathedral. Dating back to 1170, Roskilde Cathedral was Scandinavia’s first Gothic church built from red brick. In fact, some historians say the cathedral was a huge inspiration on the subsequent construction boom of brick churches throughout Europe.
Perched on an elevated platform overlooking the city, Roskilde Cathedral enjoys a dramatic location. This sense of grandeur is more than matched inside with a huge mausoleum home to forty Danish kings and queens!
Enter The Royal Tombs and it’s impossible not to feel the weight of history as you move between the coffins. A number of specially built chapels hold the tombs, each showing off the architectural style of the time. Weirdly, you can also view a replica of the coffin prepared for Denmark’s current queen, Margareth II. For a deeper look into the cathedral and its tombs, have a read of this excellent article from audeladupaysage.com.
A large chunk of my day was spent at the altogether more lighthearted Viking Ship Museum. While admittedly a bit of an eyesore from the outside, the interior exhibits more than make up for it. This is Denmark’s national museum for ships, seafaring and boatbuilding in the prehistoric and medieval periods.
Its most impressive exhibit is the permanent display of five original viking ships. All of which were excavated across Roskilde back in 1962.
What To See & Do, Roskilde.
The Viking Ship Museum also has a playroom with a giant model ship. Onboard, you’ll find a number of costume chests and a wide variety of plastic weapons. More for the kids really… and err… me.
The museum boatyard meanwhile specialises in full-scale reconstructions of historic boats! But the highlight is probably a walk down the jetty where you can board a merchant vessel for a local sailing trip.
I made a couple of friends that evening in Roskilde. First there was Dave, a tanned, silver-haired Brit who’d been teaching English in Japan. The other dude was Niels, a softly spoken local man. I met them both at my hostel and that evening we went out for a few beers at a traditional pub in the town centre. For me it was an early taste of the sudden and unlikely friendships you can forge while travelling. Forever frozen in this one moment of my life, I can’t help but wonder what happened to Dave and Nils in the eighteen years that have since passed.
For more on my adventures in the country, check out my other reports from around Denmark.
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